child playing game on white ipad

Article provided by Nikolas Kairinos, CEO,

Nowadays, gamification technologies are gaining a lot of traction in educational settings.

This is hardly surprising in the current climate, as schools are only just easing out of COVID-19 enforced closures, and more generally grappling with how they can keep their students more engaged. As a rule of thumb, people from the millennials and Gen Z demographic, tend to get bored quite easily, so traditional lesson plans and courses are less effective methods of teaching them. Luckily, however, gamification technologies can be very effective when implemented well.

Whether you are a corporate training manager, a teacher or even a course provider, these technologies can mean the difference between unengaged students struggling to retain important information, and proactive learners ready to pass their examinations with flying colours and exceed their targets.

With this in mind, how can institutions stay ahead of the game when it comes to keeping their learners interested and engaged?

More than just fun and games 

Going back to basics, learning leaders should familiarise themselves with what gamification actually means in practice: It refers to the use of game-design elements and principles outside of traditional gaming contexts. The chances are, if you have tried to improve the ‘strength’ of your LinkedIn profile or swapped a loyalty card full of stamps for a free coffee at your local store, then you have been ‘gamified’ to one extent or another.

The idea of including these tactics in education specifically, is that people generally enjoy the gaming experience and tend to come back to learn more. Research suggests that playing video games releases dopamine in the brain – a ‘feel good’ chemical, which users then learn to associate with reward and success. Furthermore, learning from behavioural science also indicates that this motivation ‘nudges’ learners to press on with their objectives – whether this is reaching a new level of language fluency within an app, or racking up points in the classroom to trade in for a prize at the end of a school week.

Clearly, gamification strategies are intrinsic to motivation in educational settings, but where the real challenge lies not necessarily just getting knowledge-seekers to learn, but encouraging them to keep on learning to retain vital information.

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How can educators use gamification?

Educators might be wondering how gamification techniques and technologies work in context. This might depend on the specific learning environment – a corporate learning leader delivering a course on digital marketing to employees at an executive level will have vastly different requirements to a schoolteacher or a university professor.

For example, a high school English teacher looking to help students brush up on their ability to recall Shakespearean verse for an upcoming examination might use flashcard-creator apps and quiz platforms, which can be very useful devices in the memory retention process. In fact, even long before modern technology was available, one summative analysis of over 200 experiments conducted across 70 years actually suggests that learners are more likely to recall and retain new knowledge after using these devices, than if they were to simply take notes the regular way. In essence, this provides a simple solution which removes much of the onerous tedium out of the revising process, which might make students more inclined to put the preparation in ahead of their assessments.

Elsewhere, most teachers will be acutely aware of the unique challenges that come along with keeping students engaged throughout a full day of remote lessons. Back-to-back Zoom instruction can only stir so much enthusiasm, and educators will find that they are in need of something a little more special to remedy this. Integrating games into their lesson plans, as well as setting gamified tasks as extension or homework for accomplished learners would be a good start. A language teacher might benefit from allocating certain modules and courses to students on Duolingo, for example. Here, learners can compete against each other to top the leaderboard, earn virtual currencies, and acquire a new level of understanding, which should be a win-win for both student and teacher.

Beyond just improving knowledge retention, educators will likely find that implementing gamification makes their life easier, too. From a planning perspective, these technologies present learners with clear tasks and objectives, making progress much easier to monitor.

Ultimately, gamified technologies can help learners keep up with their educational goals, even when current circumstances are presenting a significant challenge. Ensuring that learning is a fun and stimulating experience should be high on the agenda for all educators.

Nikolas KairinosAbout the author

Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of, which is building the next generation of educational technology solutions. Whether you’re a trainer, teacher, or individual app user, the SoffosTM Cognitive AI Engine puts knowledge locked away in all your files and resources straight into the palm of your hand.